weird new world – in a good way (2)

OK – so I had a little knock-back. I got “released” from a “pencilled” filming date. Reason?  A scene re-write.  It felt like someone had stuck a pin in my balloon though, just when I was showing it off to my friends.

It’s fine though, cos I had a nice email saying they’ll pick me for other dates. And guess what! True to their word, I have just had another pencil date for next week. On the strength of this I have registered with two other casting agencies and been accepted onto the register of one of these – the other is still pending.

My balloon has re-inflated!

It all suddenly feels good again and I am able to work on marketing my book, Not Alcoholic, But…  and writing more content for my sales training course. At home! The luxury of it feels like a hot bath in winter. Except of course, it’s Spring – the season of hope.

None of this would be possible without the financial freedom that quitting alcohol has given me in the last 3 years. That’s the bedrock of everything. It’s a bedrock that has allowed me to build some modest blocks to work on and earn a little money doing things I enjoy. Now, after some considerable time of trying to get these projects off the ground, in sobriety, I can sence the possibilities and I feel excited. Things are at at last starting to happen, and I may never have to go back to conventional 9-5 work for some hideous corporate outfit, ever again.

But I realise that in the last 3 years I have been working on the psychological building blocks too. I would never have had the patience in my drinking days to stick to a simple plan for very long. As soon as I saw some potential I would get carried away and start drinking the profits in wild celebration before I had earned a penny. Then I’d have given up on the idea and sulked. I’d have borrowed some more money from somewhere at the same time. Life was always a roller-coaster of soaring highs and desperate lows.

I have learned to live  sober on a calm, even level. I appreciate simple things like good food, exercise, sleep, coffee, chocolate, hot baths, reading – and the appreciation is almost on a spiritual level. It’s not a replacement for alcohol – it’s completely different and far more fulfilling.

So this new excitement in my life , the background artiste work – feels like a high of the old kind, but this time round I feel able to cope with it. It’s also an intensely sociable activity involving hours of sitting around with strangers, and I’m giddy in my enjoyment of it all. In the past that wouldn’t have been possible because the intensity would have sent me straight to the bottle for a confidence boost and to hide behind an alcoholic mask – not drunk necessarily – but anesthetised. But now I just feel fine being me. And I’m able to really enjoy the emotional surge too.

Thank God for my sobriety! It’s such a gift.

Advertisements

weird new world – in a good way.

 

I have been in a heightened state recently.

After 2 years on the books of a casting agency for film extras – or assistant artistes, as we apparently prefer to be known – I finally received an email asking if I was available for some filming work.

I’m on day 2 of a “shoot” and wandering around in a bit of a daze, trying to look perturbed by the biting March wind and sheet rain, but secretly I want to run around with my pants on my head, skipping.

So many things are falling into place in sobriety. I quit alcohol 3 years+ ago and have been gradually adjusting to everything, including the relaxation on my wallet. I was never a big wig in the workplace but I did have a corporate sales job which I quit 6 months after I quit the booze. I did so when I twigged that I no longer wanted to endure the pressure and I didn’t need the money.

It’s taken a while to find a work/life balance that suits me. The low-level freelance tele-sales work that I have been doing to pay the bills has succeeded in that function, but has nonetheless been unfulfilling. Now, suddenly, out of nowhere, I find that I’m a “special artiste” for two days and I feel punch drunk whenever I talk to anyone here “on set” – by which I mean, in the waiting areas. It’s that gin & tonic feeling – giggly and slightly reckless. I’m holding back from being a little too excitable in my responses, a touch too flippant and skittish when told my costume looks lovely on me. The temptation to let out a random guffaw is almost too much though. I’m so ridiculously happy.

I don’t quite know why it’s so exciting. I think it’s mainly that I have realised for the first time in sobriety that the gin and tonic high that I sought (and always drowned instantly) was quite attainable by natural means, and for hours at a stretch. No hangovers either; no remorse; no self-loathing.

But that’s not the whole picture. I think it’s cos I already have the other bit of the work jigsaw in place – I have a couple of freelance projects that are coming along and will soon earn a little money. I may never have to go back to either low-level telesales or the stressful world of corporate bullshit.

It’s mind-blowing how my new world is evolving, free from alcohol.

I’ve had to be patient though. For two years, while living off my dwindling savings and overdraft, I had no idea where financial security might come from – without going back into a proper paye job – the very thing I wanted to avoid. I was writing my book, “Not Alcoholic, But…” during this period – a wonderful experience in the main – but never care-free, due to dodgy finances. Towards the end of this period I was doing some freelance low-level tele-sales work, to pay the bills and keep my overdraft in check, but it was horribly menial and heavily scrutinized by management, leaving me frustrated and dispirited.

I was able to keep going because being alcohol-free kept me on an emotional even-keel and empowered me with the inner belief that I could achieve complete self-determination though sobriety.

 

In the past, alcohol was the boss. I had to have a certain kind of job, and a certain kind of salary that would satisfy the demands that alcohol put on me – which very much included financial demands – as well as time and life-style.

But being alcohol-free, no obstacle is going to push me off course. I have continued to plough on with what I know to be right for me. My book and my simple new way of life were from day 1 the most important things for me, and I knew that in time new opportunities would arise from these. Just because I couldn’t see yet what these opportunities were, wasn’t going to put me off. I was content. Sobriety saw to that. And sobriety gave me the patience to wait and see what might emerge.

Then a few weeks ago, I added another freelance scheme to my wish list. If only I could just start to make a little money doing something I enjoyed doing, without having to rely on the unrewarding, low level tele-sales work!

And then, the bolt from the blue came along. The supporting artiste agency finally contacted me after 2 years of waiting (I had forgotten all about them). It’s changed my outlook beyond recognition. It feels like a reward for all my patience.

Sitting around “on set” talking to fellow artistes and to all the amazing production team is just so thrilling and fun, and there is no obligation to “be” anyone but myself. The “work” is hardly difficult and is entirely in the background. But it manages to seem very important and special at the same time. And in-between it doesn’t require me to put on any persona – other than my own natural one.

I have even been able to write this piece while sitting around waiting to be called.

It’s also great not to feel the need to celebrate my good fortune with a drink. In fact I don’t ever think like that now anyway. In the old days I would have sought out a pub on the way home from the first day of filming, and basked in the glory, spending big chunks of the money I had just earned, and not yet even been paid. I’m completely free of all that now. I feel re-born and ready for a whole new life!

Elephant in the Room

 

Article by Will Piper

I remember going to a therapist in the mid 90s to explore my relationship problems. I was going through lots of anxiety with my partner at the time, worrying about everything, feeling jumpy and insecure. I was fully prepared to be asked about my relationship with significant others, particularly my mother, who had always had and would continue to have a domineering presence in my life, full of drunken resentment toward me – a resentment she was unwilling to talk about when sober.

I let the therapist know how much alcohol influenced my mother’s aggression toward me, and he suggested I refuse to see her when she had a drink. As that meant me not having a drink too, I didn’t think that would be possible.  I needed a drink when I saw my mother and there was no way I was going to remain sober, whether she was drinking, or not, and besides I knew she wouldn’t accept such terms anyway.

As far as I was concerned no problem of mine was so great that I needed stop drinking for it. Alcohol was part of the cure, for me anyway. Hypocritical though it was, I nonetheless thought it was a good idea that my mother should be encouraged not to drink, as it was she who got aggressive, not me – not until I had been provoked enough and then we’d be arguing for hours. I didn’t start the arguments. But no way was I going to stay off the booze just so that she did too. That was asking too much.

I didn’t return to the therapist after that, because I wasn’t prepared to address the alcohol issue, which wasn’t the problem I had gone to him about anyway, so I dropped the whole thing and didn’t go back to him.

The thing was, my mother’s aggressive drinking lasted 25 years, but I always drank too whenever I saw her. My sister died in that time, from mental health issues, and still the drink went unchecked. I didn’t think it was the central problem.

Alcohol was the proverbial elephant in the room. Neither of us thought we had a problem ourselves although we probably both thought the other needed to cut down. Most importantly, neither of us wanted to lose our best crutch. So we kept drinking.

When I eventually stopped drinking 3 years ago, I did so without any real turmoil. I did it because I was ready to, and I did it on my terms. What a difference that makes.